Connecticut BBB Issues Alert About Mystery Shopping Scam

February 06, 2013
The Connecticut Better Business Bureau is alerting the public about a “mystery shopper” scam that cost a Darien woman $1,990.

In an article in the Darien Patch, Darien police are quoted as saying the woman received an email offering an opportunity to evaluate the job performance of employees at Western Union.  In what is known as an overpayment scam, she was sent a check for $1,990, instructed to deposit it into her bank account, keep $250 and send the balance back to the company by wire transfer.

The check she received and deposited was phony, as was contact information she was sent by the con artists.  As is the often the case, the check was accepted for deposit and subsequently bounced.

Darien police warn this mystery shopper scam appears to be using the names of legitimate businesses to lend credibility to their appeal.

The mystery shopper scam has been around for years, and while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says there are some legitimate opportunities, most are merely attempts to trick job-seekers into wiring money.

The FTC and Connecticut Better Business Bureau remind consumers to steer clear of mystery shopper promoters who:

  • Advertise for mystery shoppers in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by email.
  • Require that you pay for “certification.”
  • Guarantee a job as a mystery shopper.
  • Charge a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities.
  • Sell directories of companies that hire mystery shoppers.

The hallmark of many scams involves a request to deposit a check and send back all or a portion of the money to someone else.  Never send money by wire transfer to somebody you don’t know.